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No- or Low-Cost Benefits Employees and Candidates Love

Quick Look: Lucrative employee benefits don’t have to come at a high cost. A smart HR strategy involves personalization, flexibility, and effective communication of a company’s unique perks. Focusing on the needs of today’s workforce by offering well-rounded benefits provides a competitive edge for retention and recruitment, delivering a win-win situation for both employers and employees.

The world of employee benefit services has changed quite dramatically over the past 18 months with the nature of people’s normal working situations flipped upside down. The pandemic forced most industries to work from home, and many have decided to maintain this type of setup for the company going forward. With fewer people working in the office, some of the employee benefits previously offered aren’t as alluring as they once were.

However, this doesn’t mean companies need to spend exorbitant costs to attract and retain top talent. Employees across all industries want benefits focused on honoring their sense of well-being and tailored to their specific situations. Certain traditional benefits like in-office lunches and high-tech office spaces are taking the back burner to the modern needs of the individual.

When advising small- and medium-sized business leaders on employee benefit services, companies should feel proud of what they’re able to offer. Open enrollment is right around the corner and there are several key benefits candidates are looking for in today’s world. Employers should actively promote these for recruiting and retention purposes since not every organization offers these types of perks.

Voluntary Benefits

No two employees have the exact same needs, which makes the option of voluntary benefits enticing. Voluntary benefits may include life insurance, pet health coverage, legal services, and financial counseling, to name a few. Employees may value one over the other depending on what stage of life they’re in. Giving the option to choose offers employees the benefits which speak directly to them the most.

Businesses can either pass or split costs of these benefits with the employee and likewise, the employee benefits from a less expensive group rate they’d be ineligible for on their own. A professional employer organization (PEO) like ExtensisHR can help negotiate rates to provide the most cost-effective solution for brokers and their clients.


As with everything else, many healthcare practices switched to remote services during the pandemic as well. The advantage of telemedicine is it’s easier for employees to schedule checkups at times convenient to their schedule. It may also allow for greater flexibility when choosing a provider since location may no longer be an issue.

Mental health services, specifically, experienced an uptick over the past several months. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, nearly 74% of psychologists reported an increase in demand for patient therapy for anxiety disorders.

A PEO can help brokers and SMB leaders tailor employee benefit services with regard to telemedicine for both physical and mental health care coverage.

Gym memberships may be replaced with stipends for at-home gym equipment. Covering costs for mindfulness apps and therapy sessions could be part of a newly tailored benefits plan. These types of health benefits allow employees to maintain the right headspace to do their best work at a low or equal cost to the company.

Training and Development for Career Advancement

A rising number of people have chosen to continue their education to advance their careers or as a way to switch industries altogether. A recent Prudential survey reported nearly 48% of Americans are rethinking the type of job they want post-pandemic. To retain top talent, it’s important for companies to invest in their employees through training and development.

This begins with laying out a well-defined career plan employees can follow to reach their goals. Specific employee benefits may include a mentorship program, tuition reimbursement, or on-the-job training. General business and personal development have also become sought-after, low-cost benefits shown to keep employees happy and engaged.

Clear Communication and Feedback Loops

Transparent communication can help provide certainty during uncertain times. With online exchanges like emails and chat messages, the tone and intent can often be misconstrued. It’s important now more than ever to create a streamlined method of communication that’s consistent. A PEO can offer expertise to guide different strategies based on a company’s structure and current needs.

Furthermore, leaving the door open for employee feedback through anonymous surveys and suggestion boxes allows employees to speak up about potential problems, as well as provide recommended solutions to improve the culture of the company. Employees want to feel heard as much as they want to receive information.

Up-to-Date Equipment

Equipment updates may not be the lowest cost-benefit for employers. However, the investment allows employees to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively, thus saving time and boosting a company’s operational flow. Employing the best of the best means offering the same. Whether this involves new computers, software, or online tools, staying updated with technology should be budgeted into a company’s expenses.

Reducing Benefits Waiting Periods

A 90-day waiting period before benefits and PTO accrual begins used to be the norm. Now, this gap in healthcare coverage and vacation earnings could deter candidates, especially when recruited by other companies with no waiting period. Offering a reduced benefits waiting period doesn’t take away from the employer – and it provides a better first impression to new employees.

Financial Wellness Programs

Modernizing financial wellness programs is also a low-cost way to benefit employees and meet them where they are during various life stages. Though traditional 401K matches are still an important benefit for most candidates, others may find equal value in ongoing financial counseling, workshops, and other tools to help with budgeting, saving, and/or eliminating debt.

These illustrate a few of the no- or low-cost benefits employees and candidates love, though there are plenty of ways companies can reprioritize what they offer. Offering perks like these can help build corporate culture and employee engagement. At ExtensisHR, our expertise and guidance enable brokers to provide SMB employers personalized employee benefit services to improve retention and recruitment.

Want to find out how a PEO partner can help you build a better benefits plan? Contact ExtensisHR today to learn more about what we offer and how we can best serve you.

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